Rob Gorrell - Folk Artist

Get your lanterns now. It will be dark soon.

sewing box

Starting on a new Tramp Art Sewing Box.

Rob GorrellComment

I have been wanting to make a new sewing box for a little while now and have finally started working up the design.  The last sewing box I made was this one.

This time I decided to do a box with a simple geometric design of triangles, then a lid similar to the green box.  To get started I drew a simple pattern for the box sides.  After numbering the parts I realized that I only needed two of the pieces, duh.

From here I cut out all the parts for the first layer. To make the pattern for the next layer up I drew lines about 1/4" in on the pattern and cut it down to the lines. Generally the top layer is made the same amount smaller along each edge as the thickness of the layer below.  Here are some more of the parts cut out.

One thing for sure. I need to get different lighting in the shop for photography.

The top is all cut out, notched and ready to paint. Each layer will be painted and finished before being applied to the lid.

Next I will finish notching the triangles for the sides and start painting pieces.  Hopefully I can post some progress in a few days.


Green tramp art sewing box finished.

Painted Folk Art, Tramp ArtRob GorrellComment

Over the past couple of evenings I finished the tramp art sewing box that I have been working on lately.  I had pretty much finished the woodworking part in my last post. Now it was time for the finish work. I try to start out with a color or shade that is a good bit lighter that where I will end up. Tramp art sewing box with first coat of paint.

At the layers build I take a heat gun to the piece and try to bubble up and crack the finish. I also add stain every so often. The number of layers really depends of how it looks as I go. At some point it will either seem right, or get kicked around the shop and burned. This is what it looked like near the end of the finishing process.

We had some faded yellow wool that I used to sew up the pincushion. I am not sure if the antique versions had removable cushions or not.  I like the idea of being able to switch it out with something new later on if I want to.

I sometimes through in an odd color to mix things up. Have you ever picked up an old painted piece and noticed it had once been painted some now horrible color? I have seen twig stools painted with what looks like aluminum roof paint. I suppose that looked good to someone back through the years.  I'm sure that years from now someone will pick up something that I painted and say "what the hell was he thinking using these colors?"  I like to add an odd color in that might peek through the upper layers just a little.  But not on this piece.

In the end this is what I came out with.  It is about 8.5 x 8.5 x 5.5 inches tall. The opens to reveal the removable wood tray.  The pegs on top will hold smallish spools of thread.  There wasn't room to allow for large spools.  The next few pictures show the finished tramp art sewing box. I listed it in my Etsy store this morning.

Green tramp art sewing box with yellow pin cushion.Green tramp art sewing box with lid openTramp art sewing box with yellow pin cushionClick here to see previous post on this project.

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Tramp Art Sewing Box - continued.

Painted Folk Art, Tramp ArtRob GorrellComment

I got a chance to work on the new sewing box for another couple hours. I am almost ready to start putting a finish on the box.  If you missed the earlier post where I started the box, click here. I had been putting off working on the back of the sewing box because I was not sure what to do about the way the lid opened. I finally decided to go ahead and put the floral cutouts on without wrapping a full frame around them. tramp-art-sewing-box-back-parts This seemed like a decent way to keep the flowers the same all the way around. It's not a perfect solution, but I went with it.  Here you can see the parts cut out. The difficulty is that when the lid opens the back of the lid rotates into the box, so I can't put anything on the very back of the lid.

After edging the rectangles and easing the flowers I ended up here:Tramp-art-jewelry-box-back

The plan is to add dowels to the top to hold spools of thread. This was pretty straightforward with a walnut dowel rod and one more layer of pine.  I got to use my favorite little low angle block plane. A low angle block plane is great for planing end grain and for taking very fine shavings on small parts. This particular plane is made by Lie-Nielson, but there are several companies that make them.

I cut out and camfered the edges of the spool bases and added them to the box lid.  Ahhh, nearly ready for the tray and finish.  I made a small tray, nice and square, to fit inside of the tramp art sewing box, which turns out, is not all that square. After a little benchtop sander work it fit.tramp-art-sewing-box-inside

So here is what the project looked like at the end of the evening:

Do you ever get nearly finished with a project and have one of those "Oh crap" moments?  I do....

In this case I neglected to notice that the side of the lid are not the same width as the ends. So when I stuck the spools of thread on the top to see how it looked the dowels were to close to the middle on two sides. Crap. Luckily the glue had not dried and I could pry two sides off to be fixed next time.

One of these days I will learn to draw out a project before I start.  More later.

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I've started a new tramp art sewing box.

Painted Folk Art, Tramp ArtRob GorrellComment

Ages ago I had started to build a tramp art clock that would have flower cutouts incorporated. As it often happens, I changed the design mid-stream. So I ended up with these flower things cut out and laying in a box for a couple years. Since I sold the little green tramp art sewing box, I wanted to start a new one with a larger box.  Here is the nice fancy cigar box that I started with.

Cigar box for tramp art sewing box
Cigar box for tramp art sewing box

This piece will be have a lift out shelf inside for supplies and a pincushion incorporated into the top. I have not quite worked out how I want to do the top yet.  You can see a few of the flower cutouts to the side. I found this particular floral design in one of Bernard Mason's books from the 1930's. He lists this design as one used by native americans on birch bark basket decoration.

This next photo was taken after the first evenings work. I had the front design pretty well worked out.  I wanted to have the flowers sort of go behind the layers visually. When I am finished there will be another layer or two on the flowers. I am using more of the pine from previous projects for the decoration on this box. It carves really easy as long as I am careful not to over cut and split off the points.

Tramp art sewing box at the end of day one.

The next time I post on this project I should have the front and sides ready for whatever finish I decide to use.

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Making a tramp art sewing box

Painted Folk Art, Tramp ArtRob GorrellComment

Tramp Art Sewing Box One of the things I find interesting about tramp art is how much of it had some function.  There are plenty of examples of sewing boxes, pin cushions, comb holders and the like.  I am not one to believe that art must have function to have value, but it is nice to be able to make something that has a practical use now and then.  This little sewing box is inspired once again by the collections documented by Clifford A. Wallach.

The project started out with the same size box and decoration as the coin bank that I made previously.The box is made from salvaged pine boards and are really nice for tramp art style carving.

 After carving and applying the parts of the box I gave it a few coats of green paint and distressed the finish.

The pin cushion on top was made from some hand dyed wool that we bought from a local fiber artist. I think it really dresses the box up nicely.

Following are a few pictures of the finished project.  I listed it today on my Etsy store. I can make these in a variety of colors if you need something different.

Tramp art sewing box with open top

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